Investor confidence fell globally this month, mostly due to waning enthusiasm among North American institutional investors, according to State Street Markets.

State Street’s global Investor Confidence Index, released today, showed a decline of 3.4 points to finish at 88.0, down from February’s revised level of 91.4. It showed that North American institutions’ led the way in the decline as their confidence decreased 4.2 points to 95.5 from a revised 99.7 last month.

European investors also turned negative, although their pessimism was less pronounced. The European ICI declined less than half a point to 91.7 from February’s revised reading of 92.1. And Asian institutional investors grew slightly more optimistic, rising 1.8 points to finish the month at 87.3.

“Investors have had to contend with three setbacks emanating from Europe over the past month: the Italian election result on February 25, President Draghi’s comments on March 7, and the announcement of Cypriot bailout conditions on March 15,” said Harvard professor Kenneth Froot, in a statement. Froot and Paul O’Connell of State Street Associates developed the index. “Institutional investors continued to accumulate equities up until March 7, but thereafter adopted a more cautious tone. It remains to be seen whether this will mark a consolidation of positioning in advance of a further round of risk-taking, or a more meaningful pause in risk appetite.”

The State Street Investor Confidence Index is designed to measure investor confidence by analyzing buying and selling patterns of equities among institutional investors. As they buy more stock, which is used as a proxy for risk, their scores increase. A reading of 100 is neutral and indicates that they are neither increasing nor decreasing their long-term allocations to risky assets. 

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